Monday, August 20, 2012

my sabbatical

this year i am on sabbatical - my first! no teaching, no service at 3/4 salary. it lasts a whole year.

i will spend it researching and writing the history of the farm at black mountain college, a small, liberal arts college that existed in north carolina from 1933-1956. my sabbatical will include research trips to a number of archives, building my bibliography, and writing the first few chapters of what i hope becomes a book.

for the last year and a half, i have been studying the history of this highly experimental and influential college. i read and re-read martin duberman's black mountain: an exploration in community and mary emma harris's the arts at black mountain college. i poured through mervin lane's black mountain college: sprouted seeds: an anthology of personal accounts, fielding dawson's the black mountain book, and, my favorite, michael rumaker's black mountain days. i also visited, with help from USF's faculty development fund (or FDF), the black mountain college museum + arts center collection at ramsey library at the university of north carolina asheville (blog post; flickr set).

this summer, again with FDF support, i visited the BMC motherlode, the black mountain college collection at the western regional archives in asheville, north carolina (flickr set; carolina public press article about the collection and my research visit). also this summer, i visited the mc richards papers at the getty research institute, in los angeles (flickr set).

during my sabbatical, i will expand my archival research with four more research trips.

in late september and early october, i will travel to asheville, NC, to visit again the black mountain college collection at the western regional archives. while in asheville, i'll attend and give a talk at the reviewing black mountain college 4 conference.

later in fall, i'll travel to the a. lawrence kocher collection at the john d. rockefeller, jr library, in williamsburg, virginia. kocher was a professor of architecture at black mountain college from 1940 - 1943, and was responsible for designing not only the now-famous studies building but also a barn, two silos, a milkhouse, and a tool shed/corn crib

in early spring, i'll return to north carolina, this time to boone, to visit the john a. rice papers in the belk library and information commons at appalachian state university. rice was one of the founders of black mountain college and was responsible for much of its early pedagogical and community principles.

in late spring, i'll travel to the east coast, first to bethany, connecticut, to visit the josef & anni albers foundation, and then to storrs, CT, to visit the charles olson research collection.

i look forward to my sabbatical project and hope to use this blog to share my findings and research. comments are, as always, highly encourage and much appreciated.


Matt said...

I appreciate your documentation of your process and look forward to reading your posts. Sounds like an exciting project. Good luck!

david silver said...

hey, thanks Matt! i've enjoyed documenting the process, too, and look forward to continuing it.

Lee LeFever said...

Awesome news David! You're going to be an honorary North Carolinian.

david silver said...

thanks Lee! wow, that would be quite an honor. =)

Ivan Chew said...

After reading your post, I'm now interested to find out about this academic institution. For instance, what made you interested in researching about it, out of so many other research possibilities. I'm also intrigued there have been those number of books written about it, and also what made you want to continue the tradition. Cheers, David.

david silver said...

dear ivan,


well, your first question, what got me interested in black mountain college, is the topic of future post. i've got a list of blog posts in my mind that i hope to write within the next few months and that is near the top. in other words, stay tuned. =)

as for carrying on the tradition of writing another book about BMC, well, my interest in this topic is so great, so much bigger than, say, a blog post or a chapter or an article. i've been researching this topic for over a year and it's clear to me that i'll be involved with it for a few more years to come. when i think of big, sustained projects i think "book" but i'm not necessarily beholden to that. at this point, i want to continue collecting information and stories and let the project determine the product or output, whether that is a book, a series of articles and blog posts, or some kind of immersive online environment.

let me know if you want a few "must reads" about black mountain college and i'll send them along.

Samuel Hernandez said...

Hi David,

I hadn't heard of Black Mountain College until your posts, but it sounds fascinating. I had the same question as Ivan, so I guess I'll have to stay tuned. Good luck with the research and I'm looking forward to future posts.

Genevieve gladson said...

Ah!! So cool! I'm excited to hear more!!